A Minot video game retailer is helping the National Guard reach out to gamers while also helping gamers reach out to troops.
The National Guard Gaming Tour is happening today at Play N Trade, 1400-31st Ave. SW, in the former Sports World building. Registration begins at 11 a.m. and costs $5 and the tournament starts at 1 p.m. Participation is open to all ages, but those under 18 must have a signed parental consent form that can be found on the Web site (www.playntrade.com/na tionalguard).
Spectators are also encouraged to show up and cheer on their favorite competitor.
Brad Murphy, general manager of Play N Trade, stands next to an Xbox 360 station in the store Thursday afternoon. The company is sponsoring a video game tournament today along with the National Guard. The winner receives $100 of in-store credit and goes on to the regional round of the nationwide tournament.
"It's a (four-man) free-for-all shooter tournament, basically, with one of the most popular games that's out right now," said Brad Murphy, general manager of Play N Trade.
Murphy isn't able to say which game will be played, but said people can visit the Web site for all the tournament rules and details, including which game will be played. He said they can also call the store at 839-4263 for details or simply stop in.
He could say that the game will be played on Xbox 360 consoles and is one of the most popular games played on Xbox Live, which is Microsoft's online gaming service.
The tournament will be split into three rounds, with today being the local round. The winner receives $100 of in-store credit and will move on to the regional round Jan. 24. The national round will be held a day later on Jan. 25. The tournament will be played over Xbox Live so gamers only have to travel as far as their local Play N Trade to participate.
There will be prizes for regional winners as well, but the big prizes come at the national level.
"The national prize is $3,000 in-store credit and a limited edition camo branded Xbox 360," Murphy said.
Second place receives an X-box 360 while third place gets $200 of in-store credit.
The National Guard is using events like this video game tournament to reach potential recruits in new ways. National Guard representatives will also be on hand in the afternoon to answer any questions people might have about the Guard.
The Guard is also using this gaming tour as an opportunity to help gamers connect with troops. At each participating Play N Trade is a donation box where gamers can drop off new or used games that will be sent to troops overseas.
"We have a drop box in the store and they can just drop them off any time they want," Murphy said.
He said they have been collecting donations since the beginning of the year. While they have collected quite a few games already, he's hoping the added exposure the tournament will bring can help spur even more donations.
"A lot of people just don't know about it with the advertising that's out there," Murphy said. "So we're hoping that it starts picking up ... especially with the tournament Saturday."
So far most of the donations have been for Sony's last-generation PlayStation 2 console, but there are also several current-generation Xbox 360 games. Murphy said a majority of the donations have been sports games such as football and basketball, but there are also some action and racing titles as well.
Although Murphy is sure contestants will love the game being played during the tournament, he's not as sure how many people will be able to show up for it. He said the biggest turnout they've ever had for a tournament in Minot is 170 people, but to challenge that number the weather will have to cooperate, something it has seldom done this winter.
Any snow that comes still won't dim Murphy's enthusiasm for the tournament and the game drive to benefit as many overseas troops as possible.
"We're really excited for this one. We haven't done (this game) in a while, so it's one of our more favorite tournaments to do," Murphy said. "They usually have a pretty good turnout, so we're excited for this one."